Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Breathless at Health Questions

It was always going to be a close run thing. I was number 2 on the list for Health Questions (starts 11:30) and had been asked to be at Millbank for 11.30.

Tried the pragmatic approach first and asked the Speaker if I could swop the order of questions with Tom Brake who was number 4 on the list. This is simply not done as it does not appear to be the natural order of things.

Next approach was to talk nicely to ITN. They invited me in for 11:15 instead. This sounds good but I was kept waiting until almost 11:30 and was sitting in the studio panicking about whether I would get to health questions on time.

Dashed out of the studio and headed for Westminster - frantic call from Whips Office at approx 11:39 - "Where are you!"

Explained that I was on my way and was told to "keep running" - pointed out that I had to have enough breath to get the question out when I reached the Chamber!

Arrived to find an anxious Brian Cotter waiting at the door to the chamber (he told me he hed been prepared to pretend to be taken ill to delay things but I am pretty sure he was joking). I dumped my coat and pashmina and dived for the bench. Just in time and I managed not to be too breathless when I asked the question - so those sessions in the gym must have had some benefit.